Friday, February 14, 2014

Playing the game of Dodge'em with the potholes in the road

This winter weather has been particularly brutal for much of America. Here in Indianapolis, the weather has been even worse than the blizzard of '78, which I have fond recollections of sledding and playing in as an 11 year old. As an adult, dealing with this weather is not much fun. One has to prepare ahead by stocking up on supplies and deal with being cooped up at home for long periods of time since it was often too cold to go outside. It is especially hard for me because I love being active and in nature, hiking, walking or even sitting.

Another negative effect of this weather has been the tremendous number of bad potholes in the road spread all over the city. It is not easy to drive when we have the added burden of having to pay even greater attention than usual in order to dodge potholes as well. Otherwise, we may end up with damaged tires or even an axle.

This reminds me of a time when I was teaching doctoral students on the island of Jamaica about a decade ago. (Note: some of the best students I have ever taught were in Jamaica and India.) On one of my three trips there, I arrived a few days early to do some sightseeing. After having many experiences renting cars in various cities, I was quite surprised when for the first time ever I was shown where the spare tire and jack were. I felt it was a bad omen. Not long afterward, I understood why when I drove on the two-lane highways to traverse the island and drive around the coast. I was also playing dodge'em there; at times, I needed to cross into the other lane to avoid huge potholes. At one point, I was unable to avoid one, which resulted in a chunk being taken my tire that I ended up having to pay for. I was fortunate to not have to deal with a flat tire.

Later in the trip, I took a wrong turn due to a lack of good signage. Then, I realized how much worse the side roads were. I couldn't drive more than about 10 miles an hour because the roads were so bumpy. As I progressed around the coastal highway, I saw a sign stating that their tax dollars were at work. It made me wonder how they could make such a claim.

I know that the Indianapolis and Jamaican governments are/were probably trying to do their best to provide services. It is difficult to manage in a situation where funds are limited. Nevertheless, it is important to stay within a budget and make sure to use whatever funds are available in the best way possible to meet the needs in the country, city or county.

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